Traveling in Palestine

by | Jan 8, 2020 | Travel Info

You will find useful tips and information for travelling around in Palestine in this blog. These are my experiences and thoughts that I would like to share with you as a local resident and a tour guide

The number of visitors to the Holy Land has increased significantly over the recent years. Thanks to social media for promoting all the amazing sites in the country and the internet has made all the relevant information available for tourists.

There are many unique and lesser-known places to visit in the West Bank, however, such places are either hard to reach or not available for many tourists on a regular tour. As a tour guide that specializes in individual, family and small group tours, it has been my pleasure to show my clients to these unique sites. I would like to introduce these unique sites on my website in the coming months. From time to time, I have clients asked me to organize custom tours to visit these unique sites. A more thorough and careful plan is required than other regular sightseeing tours if you decide to go by yourself.

 

Transportations

There are 3 options available for the travellers, Servis (means shared taxis), private taxis and rental cars in the West Bank.

Unlike many other cities that run by a public train and bus system, the West Bank is served by a unique yet efficient and easy to use transport network called Servis. Servis is usually a European passenger van with yellow color, it runs from towns/villages to the major city center or runs between major cities. Servis is the most affordable option for the travellers, however, the van does not leave until after every seat is filled. Expect a long wait if you are going to place Jericho by servis that departs from Bethlehem or Ramallah as it is not a place where local Palestinians usually visit by public transport system.

Booking a private taxi is the easiest way to travel around but it can be costly at the same time, let alone negotiate the fare with the taxi driver in advance. This can be tricky for many tourists as the private taxis in the West Bank do not adopt a meter system like many other places do, therefore it is necessary to confirm the fair prior to the departure.

The third option for tourists to travel around in the West Bank is to hire a rental car. Due to the complicated road conditions and unforeseeable circumstances, which generally means higher risks for both tourists and the rental car, it is generally not recommended for tourists to take this option.

It is essential to plan ahead and be prepared for delays due to the traffic, military checkpoints and finding places to park. In addition, internet connection and road assistance apps often experience problems to function properly in parts of Palestine as well as some of the lesser-known sites in the region.

When To Start Your Day

Operating hours of sites varies with the season, sometimes it can even change without notice. Shorter trading hours apply to some sites during the winter and the same rule applies to the bus and servis as well. However, a general rule is to always start early and expect most sites to close their doors either an hour before or at sunset. 

Many lesser-known cultural, historic and religious sites have limited accessibility with visiting hours often being changed unannounced. For example, the caretakers are not always available during the day in some of the churches or handcraft centers unless the advance notice is given. It is worth to find out the relevant information and plan ahead. Alternatively, book a custom tour for these sites with a local tour guide in order to avoid frustration and disappointment.

It is also beneficial to have an early start especially during the hot season as travelling around in the intense heat is not only physically challenging but can also be risky for many travellers.

 

Be Always Prepared

Last but not lease, be well prepared

  • Always carry your passport and the travel visa/permit with you wherever you go. 
  • Have your phone fully charged and it is recommended to have a power bank as a backup 
  • Prepare a variety of smaller bills and coins in Israel Shekels and/or in US Dollars
  • Make sure to have plenty of time to travel from one place to another,  also to take into account of unexpected events as well

To those who stay in Bethlehem yet wish to visit Nablus, an overnight stay “in the north” as we locals say is advised. This would not only to enable the travellers to have the opportunity to visit the surrounding areas such as Sebastiya, Burqin, Taybeh and so on but also to allow plenty of time on travelling.

I would encourage those who are interested in visiting Palestine to make a plan with a local tour guide. Please feel free to contact me by the email listed below if you have any further questions.

Michael Jackaman offers custom tours, hikes and experiential visits across the West Bank, including such destinations as Bethlehem, Nablus, Hebron and many other locations in the Holy Land. Contact us to book your tour! 

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